It is the desire of any hopeful parent to have a healthy baby. How you conduct yourself during pregnancy can have a serious impact on how healthily your baby will develop and be born. Taking good care of yourself will be key in protecting your child even after childbirth. Here are some helpful tips on how to ensure the best possible pregnancy outcome.
1. Regular prenatal care
As soon as you confirm that you are pregnant, you need to make immediate arrangements for prenatal care. Your doctor should be able to arrange this appointment with a qualified obstetrician/gynaecologist. Your first fertility check-up will be to confirm that you are indeed pregnant and how far along you are. It is important to track the timeline and milestones of your pregnancy and get a good estimation of when you will deliver. Also there is a check-up for male too.
If you are otherwise healthy, you will likely be scheduled for checkups every 4 weeks until the 28th week, every 2 weeks until the 36th week, and a week to the delivery date. Weight and blood pressure checks will be standard with each visit. You will also likely have blood tests, urine tests, cervical exams, and ultrasounds at certain points. Be sure to follow all guidelines provided by your doctor to improve the chances of a healthy pregnancy.
2. Stop unhealthy habits
Many unhealthy habits can have an adverse effect on a developing foetus. Strive to put a stop to these habits entirely. Habits like smoking can harm the DNA of your child and result in severe complications. If you are struggling to give up smoking, talk to your doctor for guidance on how to stop.
Drinking alcohol, especially during the first trimester, can also increase the risk of complications during the development of the baby. The same applies when it comes to the use of recreational drugs. Even where drugs like cannabis may be legal, it is vital to stop their intake during pregnancy to protect the baby.
A high intake of caffeine can harm the development of a foetus. It can also increase the risk of a miscarriage. It is preferable to halt this intake for the duration of your pregnancy, but if very difficult, at least limit yourself to no more than 200mg a day.
3. Keep active
Being active and healthy will be beneficial to you during pregnancy, childbirth and when recovering. Regular exercise is good for preventing excessive weight gain and reducing complications associated with pregnancy like swelling and back pain. It can also improve the quality of sleep, and boost your mood. It can make your body better able to cope with labour and recover faster thereafter.
If you were not already highly active before you got pregnant, this is not the time to take up a new and demanding fitness regimen. You should however try to undertake at least 2 and a half hours of moderately intense aerobic activity, spread out through the week. Consider such simple and low impact activities like walking, yoga, or swimming. Be sure to keep hydrated and take breaks when you need to. Also, consult your doctor about your fitness routine during prenatal checkups.
4. Monitor weight gain
This is just as important as keeping active. Gaining some weight during pregnancy is to be expected. Too much weight gain can however lead to other health complications and be more difficult to lose later. Too little weight gain may compromise the development of the baby and put him or her at risk of a low-weight birth.
How much weight you can healthily gain will often depend on how much weight you had before getting pregnant. The lower your weight, the more of an allowance you have for weight gain during pregnancy. Your doctor will help monitor your weight gain during prenatal checkups and will offer advice if it is too slow or fast a change.
5. Take recommended supplements
Healthy eating is important during pregnancy. There are however certain nutrients that are needed during this period that are not easily absorbed from a normal diet. Essential nutrients like calcium, folic acid, and iron are key to the healthy development of a foetus and protecting the mother’s health. Your doctor will prescribe these prenatal vitamins and should be taken as directed. If you opt for a multivitamin, be sure to check with your doctor that it is good for you.
6. Practice Kegels
Kegel exercises are targeted at strengthening pelvic floor muscles the support the vagina, uterus, cervix, bladder, and rectum. These muscles play a major role in facilitating delivery and can help reduce the risk of suffering incontinence during and after pregnancy. This applies to both urine and faecal incontinence. They can also help boost postural support, reducing the intensity and occurrence of back pain when pregnant. Even if you have not been doing them before you were pregnant, you can easily start doing them now and help build up this support. They are easy to do and can be done just about anywhere and at any time.
7. Reorganise chores
As your pregnancy progresses, you will find it harder to bend over and maintain good balance. You will need to make changes to your lifestyle to accommodate this development. Switch out chores that require you to bend over like cleaning floors for those you can better manage while upright or seated. Also avoid anything that puts you at risk of toppling over like climbing ladders or cleaning wet floors, and anything involving heavy lifting.
Try to also avoid exposure to toxic chemicals. This may mean changing out your cleaning products. If you have a cat, have someone else take over the responsibility of changing their litter box as it can expose you to the risk of toxoplasmosis. Form a habit of frequently washing your hands, especially if you go out frequently, handle raw meat, and perform yard work.
8. Prepare a birth plan
Take time to ask questions and educate yourself about the various factors of childbirth. Write down a birth plan that details such information as who you want present at the birth, whether you want an epidural, and what you want to be done in case complications arise. Be as detailed as you can. At the time of childbirth, your mind will likely be otherwise focused and you may not be able to properly communicate your wishes. Share your birth plan with your healthcare professionals and whatever close family or friends that you expect to be in attendance at the birth.